But thanks to the club and our host, superintendent Craig Moore, our group was able to play the Langford 9 in its original order. While the rest of our golf course architecture snob outing stopped there, Bob and I continued on and played the Gill 9. This was my second trip around the Heritage Course (the first came in its everyday configuration in 2011) and cemented my fondness for the course. It’s clear that despite their somewhat degraded state, the Langford 9 holes are the stars here. But there are several good holes on the Gill 9 as well and I think that with a little tree clearing (and lack of restoration of the Langford 9), they wouldn’t be too far apart in quality.
It’s certainly worth playing all eighteen holes if you’re going to play the Heritage Course and it’s also worth playing the Heritage Course if you come to play Greywalls. While it doesn’t have the drama of Greywalls, it’s on a very good piece of property and makes for an excellent second 18 or evening nine.
The first hole on the Langford 9 is the tenth on the Heritage Course. It’s a slight dogleg left with a wall of trees protecting this hole from the driving range on the right (with moderate success). As you approach the green, you can see the old Langford bunkers on the left side that are now grass. And if you look around the green, you’ll see the margins of the old Langford green pad, which in many cases are ~50% larger than the greens in their current state.
It seems like the club is trying to restore the Langford holes gradually and they are certainly to be commended for that. The restored eighth green is magnificent and it looks like they’re close to restoring the fourth to its original state as well. But I think that the bunkers might be an even bigger issue—the current bunkers are totally out of place and it seems like it would be pretty easy to restore the Langford bunkers. All of the earthworks are still there, so I think that it’s just a matter of putting sand in them. They don’t necessarily need to put sand in all of the original bunkers—many of the bunkers at Lawsonia have been kept as grass bunkers and I think that that works just fine.
But both for their own sake and because most people who play this course neither know nor care about Langford and Moreau, probably the easiest way to improve the Heritage Course is to clear out some of the trees on the fifteenth through seventeenth holes. There’s nothing wrong with the design of these holes (well, the routing isn’t great…), but they’re just absolutely choked out by trees at the moment, which makes playing them frustrating. They should do this while continuing their gradual restoration of the Langford holes. And in the really long run if they’ve restored the Langford holes and the budget allows, they might consider redoing the bunkers on the Gill 9 in the Langford style. This might be difficult to do because with the deep Langford bunkers come the huge, built-up Langford greens, but I think that the point of such an effort should be a more superficial aesthetic consistency rather than turning Gill holes into Langford ones.